Review and Photos of Dinner at Deep Blu Seafood Grille in Orlando
This review of deep blu seafood grille is written in conjunction with my Grand Foodie Staycation at Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek as part of a collaboration with Orlando Magazine. All opinions are my own. As always, I only share with you experiences worth celebrating to inspire you to #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time!
Can a Restaurant Surprise You?
Life is full of surprises. But do you like to be surprised when you go out to eat?
When you eat out for a living and visit at least 3 to 4 restaurants or more each week, you definitely do. When you only go out to eat for a special occasion, you do as well. Dining out is meant to be an experience and there’s nothing more disappointing than when that experience is best described as ‘meh’ or ‘ho-hum.’
I’ve heard these terms used to describe hotel restaurants many times in the past. I’m sure you have also. It’s probably the reason many locals don’t visit hotel restaurants. Almost as if the mere fact that a restaurant is inside the walls of a hotel automatically makes it boring and “not local”. The truth is, some of the most exciting and best restaurants are located within hotels and resorts, and that is especially true in Orlando, Florida.
There’s often a misperception of hotel restaurants as lacking innovation, creativity, or diversity. Many think hotel chains serve up the same menu in every location leaving them devoid of local flair. I on the other hand think hotel restaurants have some of the most talented kitchen crews in town and meeting Executive Chef Jonathan McCann and experiencing the various food outlets in the hotel proved it.
“We run our restaurant as a free-standing restaurant or a restaurant with rooms.” says McCann. He shares that his focus since he came onboard in January 2018 is to create a unique experience for local Orlandoans and hotel guests. He has a farm to table focus on fresh ingredients and his passion for cooking is inspiring. He goes on to say “Food is about more than taste. It’s about emotion. There’s a lot of feeling that goes into cooking. I get teased because of how I feel about fruits and vegetables but people grew them with love. We have respect for that in the kitchen. It’s about having fun. We want to bring people together to enjoy.”
There was plenty for us to enjoy and many great surprises at deep blu seafood grille at The Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. I encourage you to take a dive with me, read all about the many surprises I experienced, then go for it.
The Tasting Menu:
Chef tasting menus are fun for me! I love being surprised by the chef’s whim with his or her favorite dishes. Letting the chef decide for me may be a bit lazy on my part but I’m not a fan of only choosing one dish on the menu. I love to try different things that may not have been on my radar until the chef surprised me.
Although a tasting menu is not offered at deep blu seafood grille, I highly recommend you allow your server or the chef guide your selections. Chances are you will be surprised with dishes you didn’t know you liked or with dishes you love that were given an extra twist and taken to the next level.
Chef de Cuisine Wade McLamb prepared a sampling of dishes that showcased his culinary talent and the type of cuisine he loves to serve his guests at deep blu seafood grille. He joined the hotel in January 2018 and has infused the menu with his Southern roots while keeping the focus on fresh seafood. He calls it “rustic” cooking. I would call it ‘elevated rustic.’
He tells me he grew up shucking corn and cleaning collard greens in his grandmother’s kitchen in North Carolina and those influences show beautifully. He uses fruits and vegetables in season and pickles and preserves like every Southerner loves to do. Jams, jellies, pickles and preserves show up as little subtle touches throughout the night. The menu would not be classified as Southern but there are enough hints to show his roots. Who said hotel restaurants don’t have personality or local flair? Deep blu does and it was a nice surprise.
The first surprise of the night. It’s always so much fun to have the chef deliver a small bite at the start of the meal. An ‘amuse bouche’ to tease and wow your taste buds and give you a glimpse of the deliciousness to come ahead. This two-biter tempura fennel chip topped with pork belly jam and crisp apple slaw packed loads of flavor. I believe pork belly jam should be a thing everywhere!
Pickled Watermelon & Ricotta:
Our first course of pickled watermelon with fresh-made buttermilk ricotta topped with pine nut gremolata and mustard seed vinaigrette was a refreshing starter. This is not your everyday watermelon salad. The pickled watermelon including the rind was bright and added a nice contrast of tangy and sweet. Even my husband who is not a fan of pickling absolutely loved it. Chef Wade described it as having a “jolly rancher” flavor which oddly, it did!
The arugula added a peppery flavor plus the needed greens for a salad. The ricotta added the creaminess that brought all the flavors and textures together. The pine nuts offered a nice crunch. They play of flavors and textures in this dish was the best surprise.
Chef Wade tells us he made the ricotta that morning. I ask his process and he happily shared: “It’s simple. Let the buttermilk sit in a saucepan over low heat until it starts to bubble and separate, don’t stir it, then strain with a cheesecloth.” He does make it sound simple, but I think I’d rather just go dine at deep blu and have this salad again.
The Wine Pairing: Châteauneuf du Pape Domaine du Vieux Lazaret
We started with a white blend Châteauneuf du Pape Domaine du Vieux Lazaret. The historic village in France’s southern Rhône Valley is well known for its full bodied reds so it was another nice surprise to sample a crisp youthful white wine instead to start our meal.The Quiot family who owns the vineyard have been winemakers since 1748! That’s a lot of history in the glass. The fresh notes of grapefruit, apples and pears is a perfect aperitif wine as well as one paired with seafood.
Black & Blu Linquine – The Signature Must Eat!
Black & Blu Linquine featuring local made squid ink linguine by Vita Pasta was an intriguing surprise. I had the pleasure of interviewing Vita Pasta owner Vanessa Falcone a few years ago (formerly of Trevi Pasta) and was excited to hear her pasta was on the menu. She is a genius local Orlando artisan making unique flavored pastas from scratch.
Chef Wade truly allows the flavors of the ingredients to shine in this dish. You get the striking black color and salty notes of the sea in the pasta which is lightly dressed in a scampi style with white wine and butter. Succulent jumbo lump blue crab adds the “blu” note. Cherry tomatoes, fresh arugula, Parmegiano and Marcona almonds add contrasts of color, texture and flavor. Overall, a winning dish!
Executive Chef Jonathan McCann described it as a “taste of the ocean” and he was right!
The Wine Pairing: Meiomi Pinot Noir
You would think with pasta and seafood, our next wine pairing should be white. Instead we enjoyed Meiomi Pinot Noir from California’s central coast. Another nice surprise. The popular Pinot Noir is easy drinking. Bright, fruit forward with red berries, well balanced and food friendly. The bold flavors of the squid ink pasta would probably overwhelm most whites. The wine was enjoyable but did not outshine the true star of the night, that gorgeous Black & Blu Linguine.
Black Grouper is the Best Grouper.
Miso glazed black grouper didn’t need much more on the plate than a refreshing Napa cabbage and Brussels sprouts slaw dressed in a delightful sweet and tangy burnt orange vinaigrette. The fish was perfectly cooked and flaky. Flavored with a light miso glaze touched by honey, orange zest and ginger.
Chef Wade shared black grouper is the best kind. I was curious why and he pointed out the thicker and more meatier filet compared to red grouper, the thinner kind you normally have in sandwiches. I will be looking for black grouper from now on.
The menu at deep blu seafood grille has always been seafood centric but one of the changes Chef Wade has made in the past few months is change from an a la carte, where you simply pick your seafood, cooking style (seared, blackened, broiled), sauce and sides to having a more composed menu. The chef truly shines showcasing that combination of flavors and textures so well. He’s kept some of the guest favorites such as the Crab crusted grouper but has also added new lobster and scallops dishes as well as steaks. He is incorporating more seasonal flavors as well.
The Wine Pairing: Nobilo Sauvignon Blanc
For this dish we went back to a white wine. Nobilo Icon Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand. Yes, that may surprise some that our pairings didn’t follow tradition jumping back and forth from white to red but it works. The chef followed traditional course of service with the food (pasta, then fish then beef) however the wines served the dish and not convention. I like that. This wine is the top tier of the Nobilo Wines and was fantastic on its own. It showed the typical herbaceous minerality expected from New Zealand wines and much more complexity. However it was not my particular favorite pairing with the black grouper. I would have prefered a dry riesling instead to bring out the delicious notes of that miso glaze.
There’s Steak Too But The Garnish is Most Surprising!
I would have been happy ending my meal at this point and then the Bourbon Peppercorn Crusted Prime Strip Steak came to the table. Just because the word “seafood” is in the name does not mean this restaurant doesn’t serve a wonderful steak. That may surprise some.
Crushed peppercorns are soaked in bourbon, crusted on a thick New York Strip Steak then grilled to a perfect medium rare. Chef Wade has been making his signature peach BBQ sauce for years and the drizzle adds a lovely contrast to the smoky parsnip puree. It was again a great blend of textures and flavors as Chef Wade took BBQ to the next level.
Here’s the biggest surprise of this dish. I must note that I hate garnishes for the sake of adding something else to the plate. On this dish however, the garnish was hand-shucked miniature corn, deep fried in a crisp light batter for a flavor that tasted just like fresh popcorn. It was truly unlike anything I’ve eaten before. When I couldn’t eat another bite and offered my plate to my beef-loving husband, his fork went first for the mini corn and then the flavorful slice of beef. That says it all.
The Wine Pairing: Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon
A Napa Cab and New York Strip is a classic pairing. No surprises there. Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley is an excellent choice. The flavors of blackberry and dark cherry with hints of peppercorn, tobacco and chocolate were a beautiful complement to the peppercorn crusted steak. The surprise in this pairing is that it confirmed once again that the true stars of the night were the beautiful dishes in front of us. It says a lot when an award winning Napa Cab plays second string and fades in the background as a supporting player. Kudos to the chef!
Southern Classic Dessert
Chef Wade confesses he is not big on desserts. Except for banana cream pudding. Growing up it was a staple he often requested from his mom, especially when BBQ was hitting the table. As a young man, as soon as he learned how to cook, he would make his own with the pudding packets and a box of Nilla Wafers.
Banana cream pudding is a staple in the South and now Chef Wade has grown up into offering a made from scratch creamy pudding that is not overly sweet, layered with fresh sliced bananas and housemade vanilla wafers, which taste so much better than the processed original. Where the surprise comes is in the delicious bourbon caramel drizzle and the pieces of crisp meringue crumbled on top. Truly decadent! He added a few flourless brownie bites to the plate but by then we had filled every nook and cranny in our stomachs with that beautiful pudding.
The restaurant look, service and cuisine is fine dining with a resort feel. There’s no stuffiness or snobbiness. I loved the open kitchen and being able to watch the action. The fresh lobsters on display and the giant globe like light fixtures.
Great place for a celebration dinner or simply when you want to “get away” for the night. Dining in hotel restaurants always makes me feel like I’m on vacation, even if it’s just a short drive away from home. I loved the view from our table of the Pirate Ship pool next door. We imagined ourselves sailing the high seas, which is one of our favorite vacations.
Another little surprise that actually means quite a bit, was the friendliness of the staff. In particular, the fact that as we were leaving, servers and cooks behind the line in the big open kitchen, took the time to say goodnight and thank you. It is not often that you get that when leaving a place of business and the staff is busy working.
The restaurant is located in the Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort at Bonnet Creek located near Walt Disney World. It was a fantastic weekend getaway – you can read all about my Foodie Staycation. It was a surprise that after seven years being open, this was my first time visiting but it will not be my last. Can you tell I love surprises?
Dessert in a Glass.
Before dinner we enjoyed the “Pharmacy Froth” Signature Cocktail in Bar 1521. It was a delicious sweet treat of housemade vanilla infused bourbon, Bailey’s and Creme de Cacao that would have been just as perfect as an after-dinner dessert in a glass.
I hope this review will inspire you to go Make Someday Happen one bite, sip and trip at a time! Enjoy a deliciously surprising dinner at deep blu seafood grille. A hidden gem in Orlando.
Disclosure: This post is published in partnership with Orlando Magazine and Wyndham Grand Orlando Resort Bonnet Creek. All opinions are mine alone. As always I only share with you products and experiences I love to inspire you to #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time. For more information on my guidelines, click here. Cheers!